Will Byron of Onannon came to visit us in January, with a raft of new and future vintages. Exciting times, with a range on song and so much personality in the pipeline. Will, Kaspar Hermann and Sam Middleton have hit a sublime groove with this venture. “Such a genuine, honest ease to the wines,” was CellarHand purchasing manager Michael Jappy’s apt summary after the tasting. Rarely is he so articulate.
The two newsiest new things are the exceptionally clean and classy new label on the Mornington Peninsula wines, plus the trio’s first-ever Shiraz. It’s a delight: bright, perfumed and ultra-moreish.
2019 Onannon Pinot Gris RRP $32
From a vineyard in Shoreham, made like Chardonnay – barrel ferment and lees stirring early in the piece. Honey, pear and cream. Bit of sweet stone fruit up front. Ginger. Density and nuttiness, savoury finish. – Ed Merrison, CellarHand
2019 Onannon Chardonnay RRP $39
95, 96 clone Chardonnay from two vineyards, one in Red Hill and one in Tuerong. Barrel ferment, lees stirred. 20% MLF. 15% new French oak. 10 months in the barrel. Sam, Kaspar and Will pick the fruit “on the up-curve” (i.e. crux of flavour and freshness) – bearing in mind the warmer side of the Mornington Peninsula is part of the equation here. Good flesh here though; medium-bodied, good weight and sweep of acidity with a crispness to the finish. – Ed Merrison, CellarHand
2018 Onannon Pinot Noir RRP $39
From three vineyards: Onannon’s original Red Hill site (23-year-old vines, MV6, 777) and a site in Shoreham (19-year-old vines, MV6) and a site in Merricks North (20 years old, MV6). About 5% new oak. 10% whole bunches. All the 777 and some of the MV6 clone from the Red Hill site used as the whole bunch portion. One week post-ferment maceration. Perfumed, bright nose with cherries and stone fruits. Nice, juicy core with a sense of roundness. Orange peel note and some chew to the tannins, which carry the fruit well. – Ed Merrison, CellarHand
2019 Onannon Shiraz RRP $32
All old barrels. 20% whole bunches, of which 2% is Viognier. The white grape is about 5% of the blend, which lends a beautiful vibrance to the colour. Elegant, transparent, some spice. Immediacy to its impeccable fruit; very pretty tannins. Nice mouth perfume. Stone fruit feel. Cherry stone tang to the finish. – Ed Merrison, CellarHand
It’s very purple, to taste and to view. Cherry, spice, grilled meat and perfume. It’s sort of like a bigger Shiraz-based Beaujolais in intent, I’d say, and fits the bill in that respect very well. A bit savoury, a bit berry stonefruit juicy, light chalky tannin, peppery and fragrant on a crisp and pleasantly meaty/herbal/pulpy fruit finish. Tasty. Nicely done. 92 points. – Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
2017 Onannon Leongatha Single-Site Pinot Noir RRP $62
The vineyard is close planted, dry grown and the Onannon boys use the 1990-planted D5V12 and MV6 clones, plus the younger 777 vines. Fruit 100% destemmed into separate fermenters with minimal SO2, then cold soaked for six days before natural fermentation kicked off. The wine was kept on skins for an extra two weeks to build and complex the tannins. Once pressed, it was settled overnight before being racked to barrels (30% new) to sit on gross lees. Bottled unfined and unfiltered April 2019.
Delicious, juicy, fresh pinot noir of sweet cherry scents and flavours, vitality, slippery-silky texture and general sense of enjoyment at the ready. Not a lot of detail, good light tannin profile, vivacity is en pointe. Simple done well. 92 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
2017 Onannon Red Hill Single-Site Pinot Noir RRP $62
This wine is from the Red Hill vineyard which the Onannon boys manage with the help of their trusty vineyard worker, Martin. The vines are 24 years old now. It’s a warm site, sitting at 90m with a northern exposure. Onannon used both the clones that the vineyard is planted to: MV6 and 777, with the blend a 50:50 split between the two. 50% whole clusters in the ferment. Natural malolactic conversion in barrel (25% new oak). The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered in April 2019.
Savoury detail is good in this wine, char and earth, brambles and sour cherry, pepper and clove. Lots of character and detail in drinking. Fine swish of tannins a feature, as is the amaro-like tang to acidity. Like this. Kinda funky, kinda neat, very drinkable. 93 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front